BLANCHESTER – Blanchester found itself in the same position Saturday against Batavia as it did Friday night at Georgetown.
The Wildcats had a fourth quarter lead it was trying to protect. Unlike Friday, they were unable to do so.
Batavia finished the game on a 12-2 run over the final 3:50 as the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats for the second time this season, 66-58.
“We were better than Batavia,” Blanchester head coach Adam Weber said. “Unfortunately that’s just my opinion because the fact is they’re 2-0 against us. That’s the most frustrating thing about it.”
It wasn’t as if the Bulldogs (15-7) didn’t give the Wildcats (11-11) chances to win.
After Conner Gadbury tied the game at 56 with 3:33 left, Collin Sammons converted on a three-point play with 3:14 left to give Batavia its first lead of the game 59-56.
Following free throw makes by Jordan Stroud and Dylan Miller, Blanchester trailed by one, 59-58. Batavia had two straight trips to the line looking to extend the lead. Jake Knechtly and Logan Richardson each came up empty on two free throws.
However, Blanchester couldn’t convert at the offensive end, as the Wildcats struggled to find open looks through a physical Batavia defense.
Gadbury would bury the Wildcats with 1:01, draining a three to put Batavia up four.
The game was decided at the free throw line. Even though the Bulldogs struggled to convert from the line, Batavia still outscored Blanchester 13-6 at the line.
Despite the physical battle on both ends of the floor, Blanchester was whistled for 14 second-half fouls to just seven for Batavia.
“I wasn’t happy with the difference in contact, obviously,” Weber said. “However, your players have to make plays. For 3 1/2 quarters, we found a way to make plays, just not in the last three minutes.”
Dylan Miller had a strong performance in his final home game, scoring 23 points. Quenton Miller added 11 points while Blake Baker had 10, all in the first quarter.
Knechtly and Gadbury led Batavia with 17 each, while Sammons added 15 points.
Blanchester opens tournament play 4 p.m. Saturday at Western Brown against Ripley. Blanchester defeated the Blue Jays 53-44 earlier this season, after rallying from a 13-2 deficit.
“They’re scary,” Weber said. “Have we had a night this year where we’ve had all cylinders rolling? I keep hoping and praying that one of these nights all that stuff is happening. I’m just praying that is next Saturday. That’s what we’re hoping Ripley gets.”
February 18, 2017
At Blanchester High School
Batavia 66, Blanchester 58
(66) BATAVIA (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Logan Richardson 0-0-2-2, Jake Knechtly 7-2-1-17, Conner Gadbury 6-1-4-17, Will Skaggs 1-0-0-2, Collin Sammons 5-0-5-15, Cole Maxson 2-0-0-4, Spencer Fluegel 3-2-1-9. TOTALS 24-5-13-66.
(58) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Blake Baker 4-2-0-10, Nick Hopkins 1-1-0-3, Quenton Miller 5-1-0-11, Dylan Miller 9-4-1-23, Jordan Stroud 1-0-3-5, JD Wiederhold 2-0-2-6. TOTALS 22-8-6-58.
FIELD GOALS: BL 22/56 (D. Miller 9/16, Q. Miller 5/9, Baker 4/7)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: BL 8/22 (D. Miller 4/10, Baker 2/5)
FREE THROWS: BA 13/27; BL 6/10
REBOUNDS: BL 28 (Wiederhold 10, Stroud 6, Lovin 5, Hopkins 4)
ASSISTS: BL 3
STEALS: BL 9
BLOCKED SHOTS: BL 2
TURNOVERS: BL 18